TAOISEACH MICHEAL Martin has personally thanked the people of Ireland for their hard work and sacrifice during the pandemic of the last 12 months.
The first positive case of Covid-19 was recorded in the Republic on February 29, 2020.
Since then, Ireland, like so many countries around the world, has faced multiple lockdowns, business closures and a wave of death and tragedy.
Speaking in a video message filmed to mark a year since coronavirus first began to take hold in Ireland, the Fianna Fail leader urged the public to stick to the lockdown restrictions in place.
It comes as case numbers continue to slowly decline across large parts of the Republic.
The Taoiseach said: “I want to take a moment to thank you all for your sacrifices as we slowly but steadily fight back against a dangerous third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a year ago this month that the first case of the virus was confirmed in Ireland, changing our lives utterly.
“Since then, a large number of you have lost loved ones. Many others have faced fears over their futures and wondered when they’d see friends and family again."
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) February 13, 2021
Martin continued: “The recent spike in cases has pushed our frontline healthcare workers to the limit, but they have persevered. There is hope of better times to come. Cases are falling and the vaccines are here.
“Over the next few months, we must protect that hard-won progress as the vaccines are rolled out, starting with our most vulnerable citizens.
“Now is not the time to drop our guard. Now is the time to stick to the basics. The new variant spreads more easily than before, which is why we should remember these simple rules.
“Stay at home. If you can, avoid the office. Only make essential journeys, and keep within five kilometres of where you live. When you do leave home, wear a mask, especially when indoors, but even when outside in crowds.
“Remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and water. And finally, keep your distance. Stay at least two metres apart when meeting people.
“It may sound simple, but by following these rules, we can help protect our most vulnerable and help ensure a brighter future for us all.”